Sunday 6 July 2014

The Pickled Fork - #Grimedining

After having a delicious meal at the Brixton Diner a few months ago I've been super keen to head back to one of the Pickled Fork pop-ups. When I saw the menu for the July #Grimedining pop-up I knew I had to book myself a place ASAP so off I popped to Barmouth Kitchen (a lovely little cafe) in Wandsworth on Friday to have an incredibly delicious meal.


Since the Brixton Diner, the Pickled Fork boys have parted ways and now it's just Alex heading up the venture of fine dining without the price tag. For £35 we were promised a four course meal using seasonal, locally sourced produced. Cindy and myself provided the gin and tonics whilst we were kindly gifted with a bottle of prosecco.

Before the first proper course was served we were presented with a little entrée and a taster of Alex's next pop-up in Brixton later this summer; meatballs with accompanying beer. The beef meatball topped with cheddar cheese and smoked bacon was an absolute delight, the meat was juicy and the cheese was soft and tasty, a perfect combination. I'm not a huge fan of beer but this small sample from By The Horns Brewery had a sweet hint and wasn't too bitter which is the thing I really dislike about beer. A delicious start to the evening and a good way to promote the Brixton pop-up which I will definitely be visiting.

The first proper course was a deconstructed Salt Beef Sandwich with Grilled Corn Bread, Home Smoked Streaky Bacon, The Pickled Fork's Grain Mustard, Kohlrabi and Cucumber Slaw. I was really looking forward to this, I love corn bread and salt beef so I knew it would be delicious and believe me it was just that. I don't normally like cucumber but it was fresh with a nice crunch and combined with the soft bread and tender beef I was left wanting a full version of this sandwich.

The second course was one of my favourites; Heritage Tomato Cured Hake with Tomato Liquor, Young Tomato Leaves, Dill Granola and Dill Mayonnaise. The hake was cooked to perfection with it being just over raw in the middle, the texture was fantastic. The assortment of granola and tomatoes added a fantastic texture complexity to the meal and the dill mayonnaise had a lovely tang.

The main course was one of the best pork bellies I've had in a long time; Cherry Roasted Pork Belly with Pickled Cherries, Crushed Courgette, Courgette flowers, Runner Bean and Watercress Relish. The pork was cooked to perfection, succulent and juicy on the bottom with a crispy and delicious top, I wish I could eat some right now. I loved the sour cherries and the courgettes, a perfect accompaniment.

By the time the dessert came I was feeling full but I knew I had room for something sweet yet light and what was served was just perfect; Beetroot and Carob Parfait with Beetroot Crunch, Redcurrant Smoothie, Fresh Redcurrant and Basil Salad. Carob is a chocolate alternative with the same great taste as chocolate but less calories and paired with the beetroot it tasted like a delicious sorbet-come-brownie. The smoothie, juicy berries and crunchy meringue added to a great variety of taste and texture.

I absolutely adored every element of the meal and cannot wait to try more pop-ups from Alex. Everything tasted stunning and 4 courses which actually ended up being 5 was terrific value for £35. This really is fine dining without the hefty price tag and I cannot recommend this pop-up enough. Every Wednesday and Friday in Wimbledon and Wandsworth respectively for the rest of July means you have plenty of opportunities to try it out. 

Do you think you'll visit The Pickled Fork x

    Follow on Bloglovin

Tuesday 1 July 2014

United Ramen vs USA

It feels like my life consists of pop up restaurants at the minute, maybe it's because I'm a sucker for anything given the label 'limited edition'. Being a slave to the pop up trend aside, let me just say this, United Ramen is one of the best places I've eaten at for a while and I'm more than thrilled to discover they'll be opening a permanent restaurant on Upper Street soon. The fact that the restaurant is a three minute walk from my boyfriend's flat is another bonus.

What is United Ramen I hear you ask? Well it's a modern ramen concept created by American-Brit Aaron who believes in taking this traditional Asian meal and adding a modern twist whilst creating culinary mash-ups. Sounds good right? The event I choose to attend was United Ramen vs USA where Japanese soul food was given a southern American twist i.e. some of my favourite food types, this sounded perfect.

The event was being held in House of Wolf and whilst I am in close proximity to this bar most days I'd never actually been inside. I don't want to say too much about the place as it's not really United Ramen's fault the bar staff are rude and the drinks are over priced but I do not like this place. However, United Ramen had positioned themselves upstairs with their lovely staff and had turned the space into a warm and friendly restaurant for the evening. The area wasn't cluttered which is a good reflection on Japanese interior and with a few simple touches in the form of flags, Johnny Cash records and table dressings it had a nice vibe. I particulry liked the idea of using the menus as place settings with comment boxes to score each dish as you went along, very clever.

We began our feast with a shared bowl of Sansho Pepper Popcorn which came with the warning that a slight numbing feeling may be experienced. The sensation was subtle and the popcorn was delicious with a slight tint of spice, as a fan of savoury popcorn over sweet I thought this was delicious.

Next up was the cold starter; Sweet Potato and Crispy Chicken Skin Maki (Rolls). First of all I though 6 sushi rolls per person was extremely generous and I'm glad there were so many because they really were a pleasure to eat. Normally I'm not a fan of sushi rolls, I don't like the pickled vegetables / seaweed filling so this southern American twist on a traditional Japanese meal was most welcomed. The rice was perfectly cooked so the rolls held together well and the filling was sweet with the sweet potato flavour being a strong element.

We were also treated to a second hot starter in the form of Spicy Buffalo Yakitori Hot Wings which really was a stand out dish for me. I love chicken wings and these were expectational, sweet and sticky with the most deliciously addictive mayonnaise.

The main course was BBQ Pulled Chicken, Crispy Bacon and Spicy Buttered Sweetcorn Ramen (Chicken Bone Broth) and not only did it look lovely, it was absolutely delicious. I love ramen, I always think of it as three meals in one as there is so much variety in what is basically a meaty bowl of soup. London has a lot of places that do a great dish so this really had to be a stand out version, fortunately it was. The broth was sweet, the veg was fresh with a crispy bite and the meat was succulent and juicy plus the portion was huge was plenty of noodles.

Originally the ramen broth should have been cooked with mushrooms but as a hater of all things fungi related I asked for mine without. I was able to try the ramen both with and without mushrooms and for some reason the version I had (mushroom free) was much sweeter and more enjoyable. It's funny how such a little vegetable can affect the taste of something so much but my entire group all agreed that the mushroom free version tasted better.

The dessert was Chocolate Ganache Mochi and Strawberry Cheesecake Mochi which is something I've never tried before. To be honest I wasn't that much of a fan, the taste of the chocolate was enjoyable enough but the texture was strange. I know I'm fussy when it comes to dessert because most of the time I'd be happy with a scoop of vanilla ice cream so I'm not always the best person to judge. However, by the time the dessert came I was already pretty full so I didn't mind to much that this was my least enjoyable course.

This was a lovely evening with delicious food and I am beyond excited to try it all again once the new place opens in the late summer. For £25 we tried four generous courses which is fantastic value and several months later I'm still thinking about those chicken wings and ramen.

Do you like ramen x

    Follow on Bloglovin